Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Introduction to Bloom.com

Bloom.com occasionally has $20 for $40 worth of beauty on LivingSocial/Groupon, and I bought one last month to try out. Bloom is a relatively new beauty etailer that offers some brands that aren't available from Sephora and markets themselves as being a "social network" kind of beauty provider, where you can fill in your preferences and get "matched" to various products. With their extensive skincare collection, this is a handy feature, though it's less so for beauty products. One particularly great thing about the site is their rewards program; you get at least 10% of your purchase back in Bloom points, which can be used on future orders, and they often have codes for more than that (in fact, with code 30BACK, you get 30% back on your first order). Shipping is free over $49, and they have 3 levels of bonus gifts that you can choose with your order; below $50, you get 3 free trial-size samples (like Sephora); between $50 and $100, you get 3 trial-size and 2 deluxe samples, and over $100, you get 5 trial, 4 deluxe, and 1 full size product. Their options for sample products change really frequently (like, daily, rather than the Sephora-usual weekly), so I definitely recommend timing your order so you get products you're actually interested in. If you buy the LivingSocial deal, keep in mind that the $40 does not go towards rewards or purchase amount, though you do still get free shipping. So, I purchased $55 worth of product, paying $35, but only $15 of that counted towards my Bloom account (as in, I now have $1.50 in Bloom Bonus and received 3 trial-size samples).
CARGO Blush in Tonga, Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum

I used my $20 discount to pick up a couple of things I wouldn't normally buy, one skincare, Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum, and one beauty, Tonga CARGO blush. I'll have reviews of both those up in the next week or two, but I figured I could do a quick run-down of the samples I tried.
The adorable little bag the samples came in––such lovely presentation!

On Living with a Chronic Illness

My name is Amy. I'm 22 years old and both from and living in Eugene, OR, I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College, I like linguistics and bold lipstick, and I have a chronic illness. I have been ill for a little over 5 years, since my senior year of high school. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Orthostatic Intolerance, which basically means my blood pressure is dangerously low without medical assistance, I can't partake in much physical activity without exacerbating my already-low energy levels, and overexertion leads to me being unable to get out of bed the next day. Ideally, I would sleep 14 hours a day, but thanks to modern medicine and the joys of half-caf coffee, I manage on 8-10 most of the time.

My illness is not visible. I have no scars, no cast, no wheelchair. Physically, I look healthy, even fit. Those who didn't know me at my sickest, when I literally could not stay upright for more than a couple of minutes, when I regularly collapsed to the ground, when even taking a shower was an accomplishment, they don't always "get" it. How could they? I've learned to live with and work around my illness. I don't let myself get to the point where there will be physical evidence of my impaired health, not anymore. Years of living with my illness has taught me what I can and cannot do, and I have learned to listen to that. I'm extremely careful not to overexert myself, to find somewhere to sit whenever possible, and to some, that may come off as whiny, paranoid, lazy. I've learned not to care about what others may think. My first priority is, and will always be, keeping myself healthy enough to function. I am at heart a pleaser, but living with a chronic illness has forced me to be okay with putting myself first.

I am blessed that my life is such that I get to be selfish like that. I have no children to take care of, no bills that I must pay. I am intelligent and academically-inclined, and was lucky enough to get accepted to and receive funding from grad school, where I can structure most of my time around how I am feeling. My friends and family have been incredibly supportive, and I am so lucky to have them, though I often feel I don't deserve their patience. 

My mother has Rheumatoid Arthritis, along with several other chronic illnesses. While the worst I suffer from is weakness, fatigue, and exhaustion, she lives with constant pain, on top of fatigue and all the rest. But, like me, it isn't immediately obvious that she suffers from ill health. While it's been challenging to lose my "healthiest" years to my illness, I at least have had the advantage of being able to structure the trajectory of my life around my abilities and lack thereof. Getting chronically ill at 50, with children in college and a mortgage, is a whole different story. My mother's whole world has had to shift, and she has been forced to reevaluate her priorities.

I don't know if I can say that I can offer any real insight. After all, everyone's experience is unique. But as a person who has both suffered from a chronic illness as well as had someone close suffer from an illness, I feel like I've learned some things. If you haven't yourself had a debilitating chronic illness, you cannot understand. That doesn't mean you can't be supportive, can't try and understand, because you can, and you should. It's simply to say that no matter how hard knowing someone with an illness may be, their lives are orders of magnitude more affected than yours. You may feel inconvenienced that they cannot do the things they used to do, that they are not there for you like you wish they were. That's completely understandable. But you have to realize that they feel robbed, too. Everyone loses different things with the onset of an illness, but no one loses more than the person who has gotten sick.

We all see ourselves as the center of the universe, whether we mean to or not. Knowing someone with a chronic illness changes part of your universe, but being someone with a chronic illness means your entire universe changes. Things that would have been life-or-death before become inconsequential. When I got sick in high school, I stopped being able to go to class or do my work. I got my first B, which, as an overachieving perfectionist, should have been the end of the world; I was just glad I passed. Actually, I was just glad I was alive; I was freaking ecstatic that I passed and could graduate. I've come a long way since then, and my life is better than I could have possibly imagined as a 17 year old, but there is always the shadow looming over me that I could get worse again. I don't let it run my life, but neither do I ignore it. 

Everything I've said so far is true not only for physical chronic illnesses, but for psychological ones as well. I have suffered from debilitating anxiety and depression since I was 11, but have, again, been extremely lucky in that the treatment I have received has been very effective, and I now consider myself (and have for a couple years now) an overall happy, relatively well-adjusted person. But having a physical illness on top of depression? Sucks. A lot. Everything is compounded. The niggling fears you have that you might never be able to do the things you enjoy become the overwhelming swamp of despair that everything good in life is gone. The isolation and loneliness you feel from being forced to go through your body betraying you turns into the unrelenting dread that you will always be alone. The bitterness you feel at being unable to fulfill your duties and desires can be easily overshadowed by the guilt of not being able to be there for those who need you. It is terrible. It feels like it will never end. The only thing that got me through it was the love and support of my immediate family, who never doubted that my illness was a real and present thing, and the friends who were there for me even when I couldn't be there for them. Okay, that and the drugs.

I keep trying to find some nice way to wrap this up, to make it have a point, but it's just not happening right now. Maybe I have no point. Maybe this is just ranting for ranting's sake. I certainly don't intend to say that chronic illness is the worst thing that has ever and could ever happen––that is patently false. But maybe this post will help shed some light on one facet of the world's many and varied burdens. And I hope that is enough.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A New Polish Rubric

I've decided that the grading schema I use for makeup is not completely applicable to nail products, so I've tweaked it a little to better reflect the elements that are important in a good polish, in my opinion. The new categories are as follows:
Color, 10: How much do I like it? This is almost entirely subjective, but I will also consider how I think it will work across a range of skintones. I tend to only buy polishes that I think I will like, which usually consists of glitters, interesting shimmers, holos, duo/multichromes, weird polishes (either things like flakies and magnetic polishes, or just strange colors), and dark and vampy colors. I'm a big fan of layering, actually, since it makes even boring pink cremes fun and interesting, but I try to find polishes that I like on their own, too.
Formula, 10: This score reflects a number of things, including the thickness of the polish (is it gloppy? runny?), ease of application (does it apply evenly or pool weirdly?), dry time (do you have to wait forever between coats to make sure there's no cuticle drag?), wear (does it chip or get tipwear exceedingly quickly?), and ease of removal (do you have to attack it with a pickaxe?)
Pigmentation and Finish, 5: Does it apply with suitably even pigmentation (no streakiness if it's a layering shade, and opaque in 2-3 coats if it's designed to be worn alone)? Is it shiny on its own/with one coat of topcoat, or does it require a ton to be smooth?
Brush and Bottle, 5: Does the brush enable a painless, even application of polish? Is the bottle visually appealing, easy to store, and functional?
Price/Value, 5: Is it expensive, is it of average size, and is it sufficiently opaque with a minimum of coats?
Total out of 35 points

Do you approve?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

30 Days Makeup Challenge: Day 4

For an overview of this series, see here!

Favorite special occasion lip?
While I tend to gravitate towards sheerer plums and pinks for my everyday wear, I go for the gusto when it comes to special occasion lipstick. No nudes here!
Le Métier de Beauté Fraise Crème (left; enlarge to see the sparklies!), Chanel Dragon

Chanel Dragon Rouge Allure Laque was the first truly designer purchase I made, and is fittingly the perfect rich red. It's a little high-maintenance, since it has to be applied with a lip brush (and even a lip pencil, though I've yet to cave and buy one just for that purpose, since I don't wear them otherwise!) and you have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't fade in the middle, but it's so beautiful that who can complain? Le Métier de Beauté Fraise Crème Lip Crème is not as bold as Dragon, though it's certainly no shrinking violet, and its combination of pretty shimmer, amazing wear, and lovely texture make it a fantastic choice for less formal events, as well as those times when you can't afford to be worried about your lipstick (say, at a conference, or a wedding, or when you're watching tv and waiting for your food to be delivered and you don't want to scare the delivery person but you're too lazy to go and check in the mirror).

I've got my sights set on a few other special occasion lips (all high-end, naturally!), but I'm trying to bide my time until I have an excuse to get them. What are your go-to special occasion lip products? Do you like bold lips, or do you prefer to go more neutral on lips and play up your eyes? 

Sunday Summary

I've decided to reinstate Sunday Summary, as much for my own benefit as for yours, dear readers. It's so much fun to get to go back through the posts from the past week and be reminded of what's new and interesting! Since I've started Currently Coveting, I won't include a section on products I'm interested in, but I will keep at least a question or two for the survey. And, as is true for all my features, don't count on this being reliably weekly!

There's been a load of posts on magnetic polishes this week, which thrills me no end. I'm still trying to find some cheap ones near me, but until then, I love looking at the swatches! China Glaze is coming out with a collection, Magnetix, that should hit Sally stores in February or March (I haven't been able to find any solid info on the US release, but it's coming out in the Netherlands in March, so...yeah), but some stores have gotten it in already, and they've sent the collection out to some bloggers. The PolishAholic and Nailstah both have swatches and reviews of the entire collection. ICING (and perhaps Claire's, though I haven't checked there myself) has also released a magnetic collection, and Let Them Have Polish has reviews of the blue-purple and gold-green options (and, while it wasn't technically posted in the past week, The PolishAholic has swatches of all four colors!). Lastly, Nouveau Cheap came across magnetic polishes at Rite Aid and posted her review and swatches. I picked one up yesterday and will do a post on it as soon as I have the chance to play with it some more.

Christine's added a couple of Rouge Automatique reviews to the Temptalia collection, Vega and Chamade. Vega is so gorgeous, wantwantwant.

Shannon of Lipstick Musings has recently embarked on a quest to make her beauty routine more natural and organic, and wrote a gorgeous post on a natural perfume from Aftelier. I am dying to try some samples myself!

Steph of Imperfectly Painted shares her bad experience with butter LONDON––I always find negative reviews to be refreshing (in part because then I don't feel like I'm the only one!), since it's great as a consumer to get as wide a range of experiences as possible. I imagine companies don't feel the same, but that's the beauty of the blogosphere!

And, because no Sunday Summary is complete without completely unrelated links, see here (and watch the video, zomg so cute). If you don't follow Cute Overload, your life is not complete. I hope you have some free time to catch up on all the cuteness.

And now, the questions (answer in the comments!):

What book are you reading?
Confession: I don't really have time to do pleasure reading at this point. I'm currently "reading" A Grammar of Modern Telugu for my syntax class, as well as Givón's Syntax I textbook, and a couple of sociolinguistics books for the class I'm GTFing, but I would love to hear what you're reading on the off-chance I have the time (and inclination) to do some of my own!

What's the last thing you ate?
Pistachios, still in the shell. It's amazing how much better they taste when you have to work to eat them!

Have you voted in the blog poll?
No, because I already know what I think (namely, find out what the readers want!). But if you haven't contributed your opinions yet, please do! I will be forever indebted to you :-)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Skincare Saturday: DDF Amplifying Elixir Quick Review

I got a deluxe sample of this from Sephora as part of a free set (this was back in December with code PREPKIT, for those of you who ceaselessly stalk the Sephora website), along with several other skincare products, which I will get around to trying and reviewing eventually. My skin is really finicky, and likes to break out at the slightest of changes, so I try to stagger my skincare product additions so I can keep track of what irritates my skin. This means that it usually takes me forever to be able to judge a product, since even if I think it's breaking me out, I stop using it for a couple of weeks and then try again (because it's always possible that something hormonal is going on!). Having done so with the DDF Amplifying Elixir, though, I can safely say: no bueno.
image via Sephora

Friday, January 27, 2012

Currently Coveting: NARS Lipstick in Damage

Currently Coveting is a near-daily feature on products that look interesting, whether new releases, cult classics, or anything in between!

NARS Damage, image via NARS

Okay, everyone should know by now that I'm obsessed with MLBB lipsticks. My problem? Most MLBB-type lipsticks are too nude/brown or pink on me. Revlon Sugar Plum Lip Butter is by far the best product I've found for successfully achieving a MLBB look, but I am, as always, on the lookout for others. NARS Damage has been on my wishlist for many moons, and once I finally cave and buy it, I'm sure it will be added to my HG MLBB lineup. It's part of NARS' Sheer lipstick range, and is described as a "sheer muted grape". I tried a sample of it from Sephora a year ago (maybe more?), and found it to be a sheer, neutral-cool plummy pink that added just the right amount of color. Christine did a review on it a couple months ago, which reignited my lust for it, especially since she said it lasted 3-4 hours on her, much longer than most sheer lipsticks. I know it wouldn't last that long on me, but it's reassuring that I wouldn't have to reapply it all the time, since that uses up the product faster. And at $24 (for 0.12 oz), I'd like to not have to re-buy it too often!
$24 for 0.12 oz, available from NARS and Sephora

Have you tried any NARS lipsticks? What did you think?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Currently Coveting: NARS Lhasa Eyeshadow

Currently Coveting is a near-daily feature on products that look interesting, whether new releases, cult classics, or anything in between!
NARS Lhasa, image via NARS

If you read other beauty blogs, you've probably seen promo photos and reviews of the NARS spring collection. There are several items that have caught my eye, but only one that has been added to my "must get before I die" list. Surprisingly, it's not a lip product, but it is a purpley cool taupe, so...really not that surprising after all. Lhasa, named after the Tibetan Buddhist city, is described by NARS as a "lavender grey", and swatches show it to have a satiny shimmered finish.

It's gotten really good reviews from what I've read, and the consensus seems to be that it's one of NARS' good eyeshadows (some have a less-desirable formula). As a taupe lover and person with pale, cool skin, Lhasa just screams to me. Of course, as a grad student, $23 for 0.07 oz of eyeshadow also screams to me––or, more accurately, at me, to stay far, far away. Someday I will be able to justify it, though, and I'm really glad it's being added to the permanent collection, because that means I don't have to snatch it up right away!
$23 for 0.07 oz, currently available only from NARS counters, but I assume it will eventually be available from Sephora

What do you think of Lhasa? Any items in NARS' spring collection that call to you?
PS: Have you voted in the blog poll? Upper right!

Orly Nail Polish in Au Champagne (from the Holiday Soiree Collection) Review and Swatches

This polish came out for the holiday season, but it's still available online and may be floating around in some stores, so I figured I might as well post it. I got it on sale at Sally's after Christmas and wore it as part of my NYE mani. I finally got around to taking pictures of it by itself, and now have this lovely review to share with y'all.
Orly Au Champagne

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Going Beyond Beauty

I am terribly slack in keeping up with the "beyond" part of this blog, but I am going to do what I can to remedy that. I've added a poll to find out what kinds of posts you'd like to see more of, as I would like to provide content that you're interested in reading! There are the expected answers for beauty-related stuff, but also more beyond-type topics. The choices are pretty self-explanatory, but a couple of notes in case of confusion: Summary Posts includes Tip TuesdayRecommendation ThursdaySunday SummaryBloglove, etc., and Small Pleasures are the little things that make me happy (expect pictures of flowers and sunsets and baby animals). I just don't know if anyone cares about the awesome food I eat or beautiful sunset I see or cute new dress I find or the adorable bunny pictures I save, so your input is really super lots appreciated. The poll will be open until Sunday, February 5 at 12:00 PM PST (because the West Coast is the Best Coast!™), and I'm not sure if you can vote more than once, but you're welcome to try. Now go! Vote! *Throws virtual chocolate confetti*

L'Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Bronzed Taupe and Iced Latte Review and Swatches

Warning: this is a really wordy post. I have been lusting after these shadows for many, many months, ever since they released abroad last year, and I am so frickin' excited that they're available in the States now. This excitement manifests itself as verbal (or textual?) diarrhea, so: you've been warned.
Bronzed Taupe (left) and Iced Latte (right)
Anyways. Why would I want these so badly, you ask? (You did ask, right? That wasn't my imagination? Guys? Right?) Well, you may recall that last year, Giorgio Armani released a new eyeshadow formula, Eyes to Kill, which had the blogosphere all lit up with excitement. These shadows are pressed loose pigment (I know, weird) with intense pigmentation, metallic shine, amazing wear, and the most gorgeous marbled look. They are also $32 apiece, and therefore not something I can purchase lightly. Shortly thereafter, L'Oreal (which is owned by the same company as Armani) released a budget version, available only overseas and in Canada. The consensus seems to be that the quality of these is about on par with the Armani Eyes to Kill, but the colors are less complex (which makes sense, as the L'Oreal versions don't have the beautiful marbling color mix that the Armani do).

Why did it take so long for them to release them in the US? Psychological torture is my guess, but really, who knows. They've finally seen the error of their ways, though, and Infallible eyeshadow started trickling into US stores late last year and are now becoming available at the major drugstores. I think they've been available at Fred Meyer (and Meijer, and Harmons/Bed Bath and Beyond) for awhile now, but I didn't make my way over to the nearest Fred Meyer until a couple weeks ago. Fortunately, they had most of the colors, and I was able to pick up the two I knew I had to have to start with: Bronzed Taupe and Iced Latte. They were $8 each, BOGO1/2 off, so they ended up being $6 apiece, which given the quality and quantity is quite a deal! These are also available at Walgreens, Rite Aid (for $8, and are currently on sale BOGO1/2 off), and Ulta (probably CVS as well, but we don't have CVS around here, so I'm not positive).

Okay, wow, I really need to learn to get to the point. Here's hoping you find my rambliness charming...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tip Tuesday: Winter Skincare, Body Edition

Okay, I know, it's been months since I've done one of these, and for that, I apologize. If you're new to Tip Tuesdays, see here for a summary!

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where it tends to rain most of the time between November and April, so I didn't really have any experience with dry skin due to weather until I went to college in Pennsylvania. I was rather annoyed by the changes in my skin (though I did appreciate the whole sunshine-during-winter concept), and spent much time over those 4 years figuring out how to best battle itchy, dry, flaky skin, which I will happily share with you now! There are a lot of things you can do to treat (and prevent!) dry skin. One big thing is not showering (or bathing) in hot water, as it dries out already-parched skin, but as someone who cannot fathom taking a lukewarm shower when it's cold out, I don't actually offer this as a realistic recommendation.
image via Drugstore.com
Instead, be sure to use a moisturizing body wash or cream in the shower to help offset the drying effects of the hot water (opaque products, those with "oil" or "cream" in the name, work best on dry skin; I've used Dove Cream Oil Body Wash, which has both those terms in it, and it worked extremely well at preventing my skin from drying out during the arid East Coast winters).

Monday, January 23, 2012

European Secrets Hoofer's Choice Nail and Cuticle Cream Review and Pictures

I mentioned this in my December Favorites post and promised a full review, so here it is! I suffer from really dry, grouchy cuticles. I've always had a ton of hangnails and cuticle peeling, which I'd never realized was really fixable until I got more into makeup and I saw pictures of people with friggin' perfect cuticles. I first tried a couple of kinds of cuticle oils, since that's the most popular way of caring for cuticles, and they helped, but not enough. I also always felt like the oil wasn't absorbing and doing its thing, which is very frustrating! I decided to try Hoofer's Choice after reading about it on MUA and seeing how crazy cheap it is at Sally's (I think ~$3 for an ounce), though I didn't expect too much. It is, after all, called Hoofer's Choice, and was supposedly designed for use with horses.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Skincare Saturday: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser Review

Fresh Soy Cleanser is a very popular product, but also very polarizing, and I wanted to see how it compared to Purity. I knew that no matter how well it worked for me, I wouldn't ever purchase the full size ($38 for 5.1 oz, ouch; even the travel size is $15 for 1.7 oz), but I wanted to see what the fuss was about nonetheless. Luckily, it was one of the choices for free samples at Sephora, and unlike other times I've ordered samples of products I actually wanted and received crappy substitutes (or, one memorable time, no samples at all), this was apparently still in stock when my order shipped. Yay!
image via Sephora

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nivea Kiss of Flavor Cherry Tinted Lip Care Review and Swatches

Long-time readers will know that I am kind of OCD crazy about lip products. I am always looking for my new HG lipstick/balm/gloss, as I have yet to find the One and Only. There are several products that I have and really like, even love, but I still yearn for that One True Lipstick. I was not really expecting Nivea Kiss of Flavor Cherry to fill that hole in my heart, but I had thought it could join my arsenal of trusty sidekicks, providing moisture and a hint of tint.  Spoiler alert: it's been sitting unused on my bathroom counter since just about the day I got it.
Nivea Kiss of Flavor Cherry Tinted Lip Care

Thursday, January 19, 2012

30 Days Makeup Challenge: Day 3

For an overview of this series, see here!

Favorite everyday lip?
I've long had an obsession with finding my perfect MLBB shade (see entries under "HG Lip Search" for examples...), so I have several options for nice everyday lip color.

My current favorite is Revlon Sugar Plum Lip Butter (second from right in picture above), as I find it gives me a really natural, subtle lip with plenty of moisture that I don't have to reapply every 30 minutes, but I also really like the others, too!

What about you?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow in Bad to the Bronze Review and Swatches

The new year is a wonderful time to be browsing drugstores, since all the new collections are being released and everything is pretty and new and exciting. This is my first year really paying attention to these things, and let me tell you: there is so much awesomeness. The Finger Paints flakies collection was my first acquisition, but other items on my ZOMG GIMME list are L'Oreal's Infallible Eyeshadow (which I finally got my greedy paws on and will be reviewing shortly!), Maybelline's Dream Bouncy Blushes (even though I don't like cream blushes, these are just so cute!), China Glaze's upcoming magnetic collection (AAAAH AFFORDABLE MAGNETIC POLISHES!!!), and today's topic, Maybelline Color Tattoo cream eyeshadow.
Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Currently Coveting: Clarins 'Prodige' Lip Gloss

Currently Coveting is a near-daily feature on products that look interesting, whether new releases, cult classics, or anything in between!

Clarins is a brand I am very unfamiliar with. It's not available at Sephora, for one thing, and it's not really heavily featured on the blogs I follow. I'm hoping that will change this spring, though, because there are some really lovely, intriguing items from the brand that I want to know more about/see swatches of!
image via Nordstrom
One such item is the new Prodige lip gloss, which comes in 8 colors and claims to make lips full and shiny. Long-time readers know that lip gloss and I don't get along (LMdB Lip Crème excepted, of course), but that doesn't mean I don't still wish they worked for me. Clarins Prodige looks like it has several colors that would work for me, and if the texture is more liquid lipstick than lip gloss (though I have absolutely no grounds for believing that to be the case), I will definitely have to make my way to Macy's to check it out for myself.
$20 for unknown oz, available from Nordstrom and Clarins counters

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chanel Illusion d'Ombre Eyeshadow in Illusoire Review and Swatches

This is the product I decided to order along with the Dragon so as not to have to pay for shipping. I'd read no end of glowing reviews of these shadows, a relatively recent (this year) addition to Chanel's line, but had never planned on spending $36 on one. But, circumstances merited such a purchase, and I figured I would just bring it back to Macy's. But then, having it there in my hands, just begging to be swatched and played with, I caved. I told myself I probably wouldn't like it, and that I could just return it anyways (since they take back used makeup). I didn't actually expect that to happen, but lo and behold! It wasn't love. I did take some pictures and swatches before I returned it, though, and will now ramble about my experience.
Illusoire with adorable brush

Friday, January 13, 2012

Currently Coveting: Nerd Lacquer Nail Polish

Currently Coveting is a near-daily feature on products that look interesting, whether new releases, cult classics, or anything in between!

Jen from The PolishAholic and Kirsten from Glitta Gloves both recently posted swatches of Nerd Lacquer polishes, gorgeous franken polishes made by Amanda and sold on Etsy and Harlow & Co, which have piqued my interest like no other. All of the polishes and collections are sci-fi/nerd themed (hence the company name!), and they're all glittery gorgeous unique amazing creations and I want them all.

Serenity collection, image via Nerd Lacquer
I'm especially coveting the Serenity collection, named in honor of Firefly, which consists of I Aim to Misbehave, Shiny, and Gorramit; the first one is particularly appealing to me, since it's exactly my kind of color (dark and vampy and sparkly and awesome).

Beggar's Canyon, image via Nerd Lacquer
Beggar's Canyon is just stunning, and even though I know it would look terrible against my skin tone it's definitely going into my order (whenever I can justify buying more nail polish!).

Okay, I could just keep posting pictures of everything I want, but I can't imagine anyone would stay interested in that! Instead, I highly recommend you go RIGHT NOW and look at all the gorgeous offerings. You're bound to find at least a few that beg to find a home with you, especially since each and every polish has on-nail swatches, which makes them even more awesome.

$8 for 0.50 oz, full collection available from the Nerd Lacquer Etsy ($2.50 for shipping, $1.50 with another item) and some colors from Harlow & Co.

What do you think of Nerd Lacquer? Have you tried any homemade/indie franken polishes? Any favorite makers I should check out?

Fragrance Friday: Narciso Rodriguez For Her Review

Hey hey, look what's back! Fragrance Friday! Wherein I rant about perfume and nobody cares. Many posts in the series have been...less than flattering, not because I dislike perfume (to the contrary!), but because the random free sample vials I've reviewed are perhaps not the most quality of scents. My skin also reacts really strangely with perfumes, and scents turn dirty (not like, naughty, but actually smelling rotten) on me really easily. There are plenty of perfumes I like, though, and I'm happy to be able to add another to that list: today's featured perfume, Narciso Rodriguez For Her.
narciso rodriguez for her edt
Note: This review is for the eau de toilette version of this scent, but there is also an eau de parfum available. I haven't smelled it, so I don't know if the scent is any different (sometimes edt and edp versions of the same scent don't smell the same, beyond the difference in intensity).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Le Métier de Beauté Fraise Crème Lip Crème Review and Swatches

This Christmas, my bestie L and I agreed to get each other makeup items that we wanted but would never buy for ourselves. I got her the Hourglass Visionaire Eyeshadow Duo in Gypsy, and she got me Le Métier de Beauté Fraise Crème Lip Crème. The only drawback to receiving such an awesome present? I now know I'll have to buy it myself once it runs out (sorry, wallet!).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Currently Coveting: Dior 5 Couleurs Garden Party Garden Roses and Garden Pastels Eyeshadow Palettes

Currently Coveting is a near-daily feature on products that look interesting, whether new releases, cult classics, or anything in between!
Dior Garden Pastels (left) and Garden Roses (right), image via Nordstrom
Dior's new spring collection contains two beautiful limited edition eyeshadow quints, Garden Roses and Garden Pastels. From the swatches and reviews I've seen online, these have medium pigmentation, lovely shimmer, and good wear––not to mention luxe packaging and gorgeous presentation. Look at the embossing! I'm most drawn to Garden Roses, with its mix of pinks and purples, as I think they would look best with my cool complexion, but there's no denying the visual appeal of Garden Pastels, and the novelty factor––most high-end brands wouldn't touch such bright colors with a ten foot pole!

For swatches and pictures of:
Garden Roses, see Blushing Noir, Getting Cheeky, and Cafe Makeup
Both palettes are $59 and available at Nordstrom

Which palette do you prefer? If price were no object, would you pick up either?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Currently Coveting: Too Faced Natural at Night Sexy & Sultry Neutral Eye Shadow Collection

Currently Coveting is a near-daily feature on products that look interesting, whether new releases, cult classics, or anything in between!

image via Sephora

I stumbled across this while browsing Sephora (not even to buy, just to look...yes, I have problems) and immediately knew I had to share it with you! I love my Too Faced Natural Eye palette, which is the warmer counterpart to the TF Naked Eye palette in Too Faced's arsenal of neutral eyeshadows. They are now joined by Natural at Night, which seems to have some more unconventional neutrals, including pinks and greens, and I'm really interested to swatch it in-store (since my local Sephora is inside JCPenney, and they actually carry the complete Too Faced palette line!).

Here are the promotional pictures for the other two neutral palettes for comparison purposes:
Naked Eye Soft & Sexy (left) and Natural Eye (right) Neutral Eye Shadow Collections, images via Sephora

$36 for 0.39 oz, available from Sephora

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Finger Paints Flakies Swatch Fest

I have been eagerly awaiting the Finger Paints collection of 5 flakies since I saw the press release several weeks ago ($4.99 for 0.50 oz each with Sally's card, $5.99 without; if you want the collection, it's definitely worth getting the card if you don't have one already). I'd gone to the nearest Sally's twice in the week before leaving for DC in the hopes they had gotten it early, but to no avail. Today, though, since I was finally feeling mostly human again (thank god for modern medicine), I decided to go out for some (more!) retail therapy. I was thrilled to death and flailed about in glee when I saw they had all of them in stock, and quickly snatched them up and traipsed home to play around with them. There is no shortage of awesome swatches and reviews online, and I definitely suggest looking at them for further ideas, since, while I did a lot of layering combinations, my polish collection is not entirely extensive and I'm only including the ones I liked best.

Now, on to the pictures! As always, enlarge for a more detailed (read: rainbowier) view.

Left to right: Flashy, Flecked, Motley, Asylum, Twisted

All layered––it looks like stained glass!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Quick Update

I'm sorry for the paucity of posts lately, lovelies. I got really sick the day I was flying home from DC (and let me tell you, flying is annoying under the best of circumstances, but it's mind-bogglingly miserable when sick) and went to the doctor yesterday to get tested for strep throat and mono. Fortunately it's only strep, but it took most of the day to get the drugs, so I'm still feeling pretty crappy today. I hope to be back to near-normal tomorrow, though, and be in tip-top shape for the start of the new term on Monday! The saddest part of being sick (besides how effing terrible I feel) is that I wasn't able to go to the LSA conference. Most epic of sadfaces :-( Painful not just because there were a bunch of presentations I wanted to see (an entire 3-hour panel dedicated to vowel harmony!! I die), but also because it was so nearby (only up in Portland, a couple of hours' trip away) and I already paid the registration fee (goodbye, $70, I miss you). There will never again be a conference so easily accessible for me, so of course I had to get sick and not be able to go.

Anyways. Enough whining! I'm glad to be home so my mommy and grandparents can take care of me, and happy to be starting a new term soon (learning is fun!). I've spent a lot of time the past few days browsing online to see what other post-breakup purchases I can convince myself into making, and I've got a lot of Wanted! posts to write up, and will hopefully soon have some new products to review (and a giveaway is in the works, so keep posted for that!). For now, though, there's not a whole lot I have to offer, for which I apologize. I hope you've had a great start to the new year, and I would love to hear what's new and exciting for you!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Currently Coveting: Clinique Almost Lipstick

Check it out, y'all! In spite of heartbreak and cross-country travel, I still manage to bring you a Wanted! post. You're welcome.

Image via a Clinique email (I can't find it on the website)

Today's focus is Clinique's Almost Lipstick. Springboarding off the popularity of the cult classic Black Honey, Clinique has recently introduced 7 new shades to the line. The Almost Lipstick formula is described by Clinique thusly: "Transparent pigment merges with the unique, natural tone of your lips to create something wonderful and yours alone. Sheer, glossy. Emollient-rich and very lightweight." I tried Black Honey and found it to be too brown on me (so much for "universally flattering"), but I'm curious about the new shades in the line. I fear the formula would be too slippery for my taste and might migrate/disappear really quickly, which combined with the small quantity (0.07 oz) could make the $15 price tag too much to stomach, but that doesn't stop me from wondering about it!
$15 for 0.07 oz, available from Clinique

Have you tried Black Honey? What did you think of it? Are you interested in the new shades?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Retail Therapy

Well, this is my last night on the East Coast. I am really looking forward to being home again and getting real hugs (rather than the phone/text/email version). My friends and family have been so amazingly supportive and wonderful during this (rather dark, #Iamemo) time of my life. I don't know what I would do without you all, and I am so, so grateful to have you by my side (not literally, sadly, but thank heavens for technology!).

I'm still a big mess of emotions, primarily sadness, anger, and confusion, but writing about it has helped a lot. I'm always more articulate in text than speech, though equally verbose, and it's really good for me to get all my thoughts out somewhere so I'm not just ruminating on them in my mind. I'm lucky to have people in my life who are willing to read my emotional ramblings and help me sort through everything, and the support and comments I've gotten have helped immensely.

But, of course, there's nothing that can't be made better by retail therapy! Yesterday I spent a lot of time looking at product swatches online, because there's nothing like pretty lipsticks and nail polish to take your mind off your bone-crushing sadness (at least, if you're a beauty junkie like me!). The internet is a wonderful resource when you need retail therapy but can't bring yourself to face the world.

On Monday, after the break-up, during one of my times of relative calm and vision capacity, I saw that Imperfectly Painted (aka Steph) was having a blog sale, so I hopped right on over and found a few polishes I wanted. One, Cult Nails Cruisin' Nude, had already been claimed by the time I sent my email in, but I was still able to nab Rescue Beauty Lounge Piú Mosso (regularly $18, got it for $11; this is a brand I've been wanting to try, and this shade in particular, so I was thrilled to get it!) and Zoya Zara ($3.50 for 80%+ full bottle, regularly $8; another brand I've been wanting to try). All told, including shipping, it cost me $17––way more than I would usually pay for two bottles of polish, but $9 less than they would cost retail, and I will always treasure scoring them as a bright happy spot in an otherwise miserable day.

Beauty Bay, a European website, is offering free worldwide shipping this week, and I browsed their selection of nail polish brands that aren't readily accessible in the US. I considered several Models Own Pro nail polishes, but at $10 a bottle, I couldn't quite justify picking one up (especially since there were none that just screamed to me). Mavala, a Swiss brand, makes tiny bottles of polish in all sorts of colors, which are a (relatively) cheap $4 a bottle. Admittedly, they're only 0.17 oz, but given how frequently I change/get bored with my nail polish, I'm sure they'll be plenty large enough. I ordered 5, and will be swatching and reviewing them as soon as they arrive (probably in a few weeks, darn international shipping). I was sorely tempted by the Nails Inc. The In Crowd Mini Collection, with 15 teeny bottles (.135 oz), but at $45, it was just too much for me to justify. Fortunately, Nails Inc. is now available at Sephora, and I hope to try them out at some point!

I saw on Twitter yesterday that you can get 2 free nail polishes from Zoya with code ZOYA2012. Sure, I'm already looking forward to Zara, but with standard shipping, which is $6.95, it works out to less than $3.50 for 2 new Zoya polishes of your choice. How was I supposed to refuse that? There are a staggering amount of Zoya polishes that I want, but I ended up deciding on two that are pretty tame, since I figured they're what my collection is most lacking. Pandora is a nude-pink cream, very office-appropriate and way more boring than I would usually go for, but I do need a nice nude, and the pinkness in this one will keep it from clashing with my skin. Neeka is, in Zoya's words, "a greyed amethyst with subtle red duochrome shimmer and bright gold glitter accents. A fascinating, unique shade that manages to be glittery but not too flashy." It looks awesome. All of their polishes have female names (though some of them, like Neeka, are names not usually encountered in the wild), but as yet, there is no Amy. Fingers crossed that one comes along soon!

Lastly, I managed to get myself out of the hotel today and took the bus down to a nearby mall. I wasn't expecting to actually find anything there (besides a book, though sadly they didn't have the one I wanted––I got Slaughterhouse Five instead), since I tend to hate clothes shopping and there was no Sephora, but I knew it would be good for me to be out in the real world again. As luck would have it, Saks Off Fifth (Saks Fifth Avenue's discount branch) had a whole slew of makeup from The Cosmetics Company (source of discount discontinued makeup, including MAC, Estee Lauder, and Clinique), including several shades of MAC Mega Metal eyeshadows, released January '11. Christine from Temptalia raved about these shadows, but I missed out on them at the time (in part because $19.50 for a shadow seemed too steep, and in part because I wasn't nearly as obsessive about makeup then as now) and thought they would be forever lost to me. I was tempted by Tweet Me, an awesome tangerine with gold shimmer, but knew it would be a hard color for me to wear, so ended up opting for Dalliance, a metallic pewter. I haven't tried wearing it yet, and I wasn't able to take a picture of it, but I will do a full post on it once I've had the chance to play around with it (we'll call it "an eyeshadow you can't have", in honor of Pink Sith).

So, yes. Lots of shopping, online and off. It's helped distract me from the clusterfuck that is my thoughts right now, and will provide a lot of content for the blog in the weeks/months to come. I apologize for how polish-heavy it is, but I promise to include other kinds of products as I acquire them so you don't get too bored!

And, in case you didn't bother reading all that blabbering: BeautyBay.com has free worldwide shipping this week. Check them out for hard-to-find British/European brands. Get 2 Zoya polishes for the price of shipping with code ZOYA2012. I don't know when that promotion ends, so I suggest going sooner rather than later!

Do you ever indulge in retail therapy? What products do you tend to gravitate towards? I know many women have a penchant for buying shoes...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Color Club Holiday Splendor Nail Polish (from the Beyond the Mistletoe Collection) Review and Swatches

This is one of the CC glitter/holos I got from Ross. It's the only one of the 6 that has a tinted base, and it's really gorgeous. Not quite as blingtastic as Sugarplum Fairy or Beyond the Mistletoe, but the formula is better (didn't need to be thinned!) and the color more than makes up for the more muted holo.
Color Club Holiday Splendor

Monday, January 2, 2012

Change of Plans

My trip to DC has been, in a word, disastrous. Getting here was a nightmare (missed my flight because I'm an effing idiot, had to stay overnight in a Denver hotel), and today the boy broke up with me, when my return flight isn't until Thursday. I'm crashing at a friend's apartment until tomorrow morning, when I'm going to try and fly home standby, since with the holidays and everything there aren't any open flights. Needless to say, life isn't so good right now, and I cannot wait to be at home so I can curl up in my own bed to cry. I don't know when I'll get back to regular blogging, but I hope you can forgive me. Thank you for your understanding, and I hope your New Year has gone better than mine :-)

ETA: Well, there were no flights/free seats available until Thursday, so I'm staying at a nice hotel near the airport til my original scheduled departure. King size bed, nice tub, breakfast buffet and hors d'ouvres, and all I want to do is go home. May try and find someplace to indulge in some retail therapy tomorrow, but I think today I'll just rest and try and get somewhat caught up on sleep.

Estee Lauder Double Wear SPF 10 in 1C1 Shell Review and Swatches

Awhile ago, I went to Macy's to look for a new foundation and ended up getting color-matched at 5 counters and walking away with 4 foundation samples (Clarins was out of my shade, sadface). I decided to try the Estee Lauder Double Wear first, because I've heard so many great things about it from people with oily/acne-prone skin. It's touted as being a medium-full coverage foundation that gives a semi-matte, long-lasting finish for up to 15 hours.
Image via Nordstrom
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...